Vicious Rumors – “Electric Punishment”

Vicious Rumors – “Electric Punishment” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Vicious Rumors are probably the last of the US Metal bands featured on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records who are still going after 30 years! Playing power metal in its original guise as pioneered by Raven, Hawaii and Helstar founder guitarist Geoff Thorpe is still yankin’ n crankin’ out bruisers like ‘D Block’ (featuring Brad Gillis as a guest!) and ‘I Am The Gun’. Shredding guitars, wild soloing and shrieking vocals lay it out along with a blistering rhythm that make the band true to its name and legacy. However, given this is Vicious Rumors eleventh album it’s interesting to see the band venturing further afield with the more atmospheric ‘Eternally’ and anthemic ‘Together We Unite’. While performed well enough, I’m not sure if these truly work well although amazingly the ballad ‘Escape (From Hell)’ certainly does, offering a superb contrast yet fitting into the band’s overall sound. Brian Allen’s vocals in particular deserve a special mention in respect of his pitch and power, but also his versatility in injecting passion into this number, which when blended with the guitar melodies sounds like a very dark n heavy version of 80s Scorpions. With most of 2011 spent touring, Vicious Rumors have really pulled out the stops to record an album right after that without a break, so I’m glad to say that “Electric Punishment” isn’t some half assed offering, but a full on chest burster adding yet another well earned notch to the band’s legacy.

Freedom Call – “Ages Of Light”

Freedom Call – “Ages Of Light” 2CD (Steamhammer / SPV)

It’s been 9 albums and 15 years since this German power metal band was formed by Chris Bay and Gamma Ray drummer Daniel Zimmermann. To commemorate it, the band have released a 24 track compilation album comprised of the band’s faves over the years along with live tracks. As a special bonus all the former members of Freedom Call were reunited to perform once more on songs – albeit using different renditions like folk, rockabilly, ska and even swing! Graced by Bay’s angelic vocals and some of the most uplifting melodies you’re ever likely to hear, I’ve always been somewhat saddened that Freedom Call weren’t a bigger band as they possess talent in bunches so hopefully this compilation will go some way to speeding them on, bringing to light majestic songs like ‘We Are One’ and ‘Land Of Light’. Of the bonus material I guess the reggae version of ‘Mr Evil’ or the camp fire version of ‘Freedom Call’ were the most amusing – although none come close to their original power metal compositions by any stretch, thus proving once again what an epic band this is.

Gama Bomb – “The Terror Tapes”

Gama Bomb – “The Terror Tapes” (AFM Records)

Ulster (aka Northern Ireland) can be a grim place if you don’t have a sense of humor. Luckily the five plucky lads making up Gama Bomb have it in bunches! Fueled by 80s thrash n crossover as well as horror flicks from that era (the cover was done by Graham Humphreys, whose poster work includes “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and the original “Evil Dead”) Gama Bomb are like a hard kick in the balls. Hyperspeed chopping thrashola riffing, panic attack drums, insane vocals spitting out rhyming lyrics- and most of all, that demented thrash beat are all over this album like a rash. I dunno how pissed these guys were when they recorded this but it sounds like they had a field day that only the Oirish could pull off as they chainsaw songs like ‘Metal Idiot’, ‘Shitting Yourself To Live’ and ha ha ‘Smoking The Blow With Willem Dafoe’ – yeah, we’re definitely back in the 80s man!

Gloomball – “The Distance”

Gloomball – “The Distance” (Steamhammer / SPV)

Taking inspiration from the hometown’s long association with the car industry, these modern German alt rockers produce their own loveable hybrid of a band mixing in Jakk Wylde, Alter Bridge and to a lesser extent Rob Zombie’s electronica and even some 80s AOR – any doubters should check their hard cut cover of Robert M. Tepper‘s ‘No Easy Way Out’ from the movie classic ‘Rocky IV’! Elsewhere, it’s monstrous swaggering riffs that drive songs like ‘Blown Away And Gone’ and ‘Hand In Blood’ which are tempered beautifully by Alen Ljubic’s laid back vocals. An unashamed melting pot, Gloomball’s talent lies not just in their versatility but that whatever their fusion, it all sounds so damn good and is brilliantly catchy, not in least thanks to the guitar work of Björn Daigger and Jossi Lenk, effortlessly feeding off each other in producing melodies to power riffs or grooves. Gloomball only formed 3 years ago but they are already taking their homeland by storm, touring with the likes of Dillinger Escape Plan, Neaera and Parkway Drive to name a few which speaks bunches about their huge appeal on going the distance.

SpitFire – “Devil’s Dance”

SpitFire – “Devil’s Dance” (Rookies + Kings / SPV)

Spitfire was the name of a WWII fighter that was the scourge of many an enemy plane for its speed, maneuverability and most of all, it’s punch. Ironically this German rockabilly trio have chosen the name for their band but they certainly don’t do it any discredit, revving up their high octane music that’s dripping in sweat, fire and gasoline! Mixing in rock, punk and metal with their rock n fuckin roll hearts, SpitFire bring it on full steam with raw whisky vocals, addictive crooning harmonies and guitars that have so much soul they could break the heart of an angel on highly catchy songs like ‘City Of The Sinners’, ‘Take My Throne’ and ‘King Kerosin’. Spitfire take the best of the Misfits, Reverend Horton Heat and The Meteors and mix it into a fireball mixture that could shoot a hot rod to Mars!

Black Market Serotonin – “Something For Nothing”

Black Market Serotonin – “Something For Nothing” (Superstar Destroyer Records)

The city of Manchester in England has a long association with alternative and psychedelic rock. Latest in that trend come the sleep craving insomniacs known as Black Market Serotonin, who were born in a physics lab and bear all the hallmarks of too many long research nights and not enough partying. Mood driven, this nerdy trio mix the brooding rock of The Smashing Pumpkins with moments of intensity a la Porcupine Tree on songs like ‘Deadbyfiveoclock’, ‘Irons In The Fire’ and the highly ambitious 5 part title track that also incorporates Floydian prog and ambient passages with delicate piano work. Centered around Andrew Pimblott’s throat strained vocals and the deep, powerful melodies he produces from his guitars and keyboards, Black Market Serotonin should be the prescribed solution to the emotionally repressed seeking solace in the 21st century.

DEADLANDS

If you like classic US metal you really should check out DEADLANDS. I guarantee that they’ll be to your liking. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

When I saw the name DEADLANDS it made me think of classic US metal like Metal Church. What inspired you guys to start the band?
-As a bunch of friends we were talking about how there wasn’t really any current metal out there being done the way we would like to hear it. So we decided to form DEADLANDS in the summer of 2010… Brian, Michael, Kevin, Danny and myself. All of us are longtime friends who all hail from Sacramento, California U.S.A. Our goal is to write and produce our own brand of Heavy Metal, the kind of Metal we wanted to hear that know else was doing. We use our combined past and present influences as a foundation and inspiration for our unique musical direction.

Is it important that the band name acts as some sort of declaration of intent for people to know what to expect?
-Yes, it is definitely a good indicator to show what a band is about. When you hear names like Iron Maiden and Slayer, you know what you’re getting into. We wanted to achieve that with our name, as well.

How tough is the climate for classic metal in the States? What is the latest bullshit trend that makes the round these days?
-It’s not huge in the States; there are not a lot of bands that even fall into that category. However, it’s worked great for us because over here it is a unique sound, and that helps to separate us from the thousands of bands that all sound the same. As far as trends, we try to be open minded, but I saw a Dubstep/Metalcore band the other day, that was pretty horrible!

How do you win over those that haven’t discovered classic metal yet?
-Sometimes you just have to be yourself, and write music that is appealing to you. People in general, can tell when a band is sincere, and that alone can win people over. We also play in a lower tuning and incorporate some Lamb Of God type riffs, here and there. That’s something the younger generation can relate to a little more.

How do you convince people that there is a greater metal beyond metalcore?
-Some people can’t be convinced. However, metalheads of all sorts, like it when a band is technically capable. The fact, that everyone in the band is capable of technical playing, has helped us earn respect amongst other bands of different genres.

When you have a bunch of big time names doing guest guitar solos on your album what does that bring to the record? How do you best utilize that much experience in the short amount of time that they appear?
-It has brought lots of attention for us. Even though, we crammed a lot of great guitarists into Final Solution, we feel they definitely got the point across. I do believe that this was a first in Metal history, that these particular chosen guitarist of Mercyful Fate & King Diamond have appeared together all on the same song “Final Solution” (Hank Shermann, Michael Denner, Andy LaRocque, and Mike Wead).

How do you sell a metal record today? Is the music alone enough or do you have to offer something more?
-The music is always the most important part. But, we added guest guitarists and a Dio cover, in order to help make the album more marketable.
When you’ve been around the corner more than once with what kind of anticipation do you enter a new avenue? What do you expect to get out of it this time around?
-This time around, has already treated us very well. We just hope that our fan base keeps growing!

How much are you ready to sacrifice to make DEADLANDS make it big? How much can it cost you do get the band going worldwide?
-We all work hard at our craft, and will continue to do whatever is in our best interests to achieve success. Being signed to Massacre Records has helped us accomplish being heard and marketed, worldwide.

Has the climate for gigging changed to mostly include festival gigs nowadays? What kind of touring circuit is there left these days?
-Everyone enjoys festivals. It’s the best way to get introduced to other bands fans. In the states, it is popular to tour from city to city, playing clubs that support Metal.

What would you like to see happen in the coming 6 – 12 months?
Success in record sales, and touring with some great bands, whether, it’s in the states or overseas.
In the meantime please come visit us at DeadlandsMusic.com. Thank You for the interview .

EVERLIGHT

The Mexican metal scene might not get the attention it needs and deserves but lend it an ear or two and you’ll find a whole host of great bands, EVERLIGHT included. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Perhaps a short introduction would be in order. So please tell me who Everlight are?
-Sure, we are Everlight a band from Mexico city, the band is formed by 5 members and each one play bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and vocals, we´ve been together for around 3 years, and we´re about to show our first EP which includes 6 songs.

Lately I’ve come upon what I think is the beginning of a new scene in Mexico. Is there a female fronted/all female metal scene about to rise in Mexico?
-Actually we think it is about to rise , there´s a lot of new bands who play different genres of metal and we think that´s because in Mexico people loves it, but is kind of scattered-scene and it keeps being underground, but that´s cause the media doesn´t support it too much.

What has been your greatest inspiration in wanting to play metal?
-The love for everything that music brings, the passion, the energy and the freedom to be who you want to.

How would you like to describe you style of metal? What bands have been most important in shaping your sound?
-We can describe it as powerful and at the same time melodic, but we don´t have a precise genre in the band, our style has been shaped by all kind of metal bands, mainly by Stratovarius, Avantasia, Symphony X, Nightwish and Epica.

Is it a happening to play live or do you do it so often that people in your region are starting to get tired of you?
-That´s actually a really interesting question, cause there are not a lot of places to play, and it´s ever harder to find ones with the required conditions for a quality show. We can play where the chance is given to us but these are generally pubs and sometimes are the same.

What does it give to you as a band to be on a bill with other similar bands? Do these kind of events draw huge crowds?
-Sometimes is easier to play with bands that play similar things because the public is more.
And no there are no huge crowds, it´s really difficult to convince people to go to a Mexican metal show, they actually prefer and even pay more for the international bands even if it isn´t a really famous foreign band. They do not believe in national shows and music.
Is it important to you to have a physical product to show for or are you as comfortable with a digital product?
-Yeah it´s really important for us to have a physical product, because we can actually promote it by hand and personal recommendation between friends in every show, and sadly digital products don´t work as much as we would like because in this country people ain´t used to pay for music and even less for national music.

What is your opinion on digital V/S physical? I feel that it isn’t as real with digital as it is with physical.
-We agree with you, the physical brings you a sensation of being part of the project, of adding value to the band you buy music to, when you have it in a digital way you support yeah, but there are so many ways to getting it without any worry and it becomes a really unpersonal relation, like just downloaded files.

What have you recorded so far and what are you planning to record?
-We recorded our first EP on december , that because we won in a band battle that was performed online and as an award we had the recording free on a studio called CICUTA RECORDS (http://www.facebook.com/cicutarecords). That´s what we have recorded so far and we are about to make it physical, but we are saving for it because is totally independent.

What other plans for the future do you have?
-We plan to promote our music all over the places that allow us and play more live. We want to write more music and evolve our sound by learning and working on it. We know that is really difficult in our country but yet so we will do it.

MOLLUST

There are so many sub-genres of metal that it is hard to keep up with them. German MOLLUST claim to play something that they like to call opera metal. Check it out for yourself by reading this interview to begin with. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

Is there a difference to German goth metal compared to Norwegian or British or Italian? How do you tell the difference apart?
-To be honest, I am not a fan of dividing music along country borders. For example, our band has members from three different countries – can you tell our group is typically German? I doubt it. Many other bands also have members from different regions of the world – so in my opinion, it’s more a matter of which musical projects influenced you personally.

How do you find a style that is all you own when almost everything already has been done at least once?
-This wasn’t difficult at all. I couldn’t find a band that combined classical music and metal the way I’d love to combine it. In most projects, classical elements are just decoration or a help to get a more bombastic sound. I wanted to work with classical structures and all the nuances classical music has to offer instead. Therefore, we automatically did something new without trying to be different.

When you write lyrics in German does that limit the potential of the band or do people not really care about lyrics anymore?
-My main reason to write lyrics in German is that I want to create profound lyrics on a language level I can’t handle in English. We already started working together with translators to make our lyrics available in a translation on our website. I love to work with metaphors and ellipses, this isn’t that easy to translate without losing a part of the meaning. For the local audience, the mother tongue is clearly an advantage. But for an international audience, English lyrics would make it easier, yes.

Why are you in a band? What is it that you want to get out of it?
-I have a musical vision and I want this vision to become reality. This is my main motivation. But, in addition, a band also offers many more great experiences. I love these moments, when we are making music together and we all get full of joy because of our music. In these moments, you get somehow close to the other musicians in a way that is really hard to describe. As a result, it is much more exciting than just playing alone. And I really love to play concerts and to share this musical dream to the world. My goal is to make my living just in working for this dream together with my band mates.

How would you like to describe the progress you’ve gone through from that very first rehearsal up to the album “Schuld”?
-The beginning wasn’t easy at all. It took pretty much time to find the right musicians for the project. It meant more worries than joy. But I believed in a better future – and, well, I was right. When we were complete finally, our project started to grow quickly. At first, we recorded a demo – but the quality was so bad that we weren’t confident at all. But how could we show the world how our music really sounds? Therefore we decided to record “Schuld” pretty early in our career. We searched for a good studio and a good producer who would be able to keep the classical soul and to present the power of the metal parts at the same time. We were really lucky to find Andy Schmidt (Disillusion) as the perfect person for this job. The recording took a bit more time than expected – mainly because Andy really tried everything to get the perfect sound for the album. All of us learned much in this really intense time of working together. As a result, “Bach con fuoco” was recorded very quickly.

Is being in a band a never ending progression curve? How do you know when you can’t take it any further?
-I think there are always things to improve or to try out. As long as you have fresh ideas concerning the music you are not done. In the beginning, you are even limited by money – I couldn’t pay a whole orchestra for example. I am still full of ideas for the future. As long as they are with me, I’ll continue.

What would you say has been the greatest part in the life of MOLLLUST so far?
-There are different milestones. The moment when the recording for “Schuld” was done and we all knew: This would become a great album. The first time we hold the finished recording in our hands. The great concert in the main station of Leipzig where we won the BachSpiele. The positive feedback of the audience was really overwhelming.

Is it important to have local bands to look up to? What kind of national/international bands have been a source of inspiration to you?
-I think you shouldn’t try to copy another band but find your own style. In the contrary, to collaborate with other bands is rather important. To exchange experiences, to give each other helpful tips, to play concerts together… this really helps to manage your own band’s progress. Fortunately, most people don’t only like one band but are open to other acts. So you have no disadvantage to share your fans with another band. Inspirations for me were early Nightwish with Tarja and Therion when I started to develop my vision. Transsiberian Orchestra also caught my attention. But to be honest, my roots are the works of classical composers like Rachmaninow, Brahms, Beethoven, Puccini, Dvorak and I still appreciate their music.

Would you say that you are alone in sounding the way that you do or do you feel a kinship with other bands?
-Of course we are not the only band that combines classical music and metal. Therefore you can find similarities, especially in the symphonic metal genre. But I don’t know a band that works exactly the same way we do.

What would you like the future to bring to you?
I would like to see Molllust grow. This means to spread our music around the world. To work together with additional great musicians. To be accepted from the classical world and the metal world at the same time. And not to waste time with a job without music but to be able to make our living only in working on our vision.

REQUIEM

To be honest I thought I had stumbled upon a reunited Belgian REQUIEM when I first saw this lots new album but it turned out to be a completely different band. Read the interview to find out more. Anders Ekdahl ©2013

How confusing is it to share a name with other bands active or not?
-This fact is really very confusing. But as far as I know, most of all bands that have ever been called REQUIEM are split up, not many are still active and we are the only REQUIEM that was constantly releasing albums and playing hundreds of live shows for 15 years now without breaking up in between and reforming again. Anyway, the most important thing for us is playing the music we like. The name is not so important.

How do you avoid disappointing the fans thinking that they’ve picked up a different REQUIEM?
-I don’t think we can avoid this. It’s up to the fans to make sure that they’ve picked up the stuff they were looking for…

To avoid any future confusing a short introduction might be in order?
-REQUIEM is an old school death metal band from Switzerland that started in 1997. Up to date the band released one ep ( nameless grave, 2001) and 5 albums ( formed at birth, 2003/ government denies knowledge, 2006/ premier killing league, 2007/ infiltrate, obliterate, dominate, 2009/ within darkened disorder, 2011). REQUIEM played more than 600 live shows all over Europe and was touring with bands like „ Perverse“, „ Vital Remains“, „ Dismember“, „ Debauchery“, „Vader“, „ Belphegor“, „Lowbrow“, „ Lividity“, „ Nox“ to name a few… The official website is: www.requiem-net.com

What is it that keeps you guys going? What is so cool with playing metal that you don’t want to stop doing it?
-Playing music and writing songs are some of the most exciting things for me to do in this world…Performing live is always a challenge and working in the studio is a great pleasure if you see your ideas taking form. I think, I can’t stop doing it, because there is something like an “inner need to grind”…

Do you feel that with each step you take you take one step further in your career? How has the career so far matched your initial idea for the band?
-Every release of a new album and every tour are important steps for us, but it’s impossible to plan the “career” of the band. It goes back and forth. The music business is very unpredictable. We are happy with the musical development of the band but commercial success is beyond the band’s control.

Do you feel alone in playing the kind of metal that you do locally as well as nationally? What does it mean to have national bands that have made it before you? Do you even think about that when you plan for world domination?
-No, we don’t think about that and we don’t care what other people do. We’re not alone in playing death metal, there’s a huge amount of bands here. If some of them make it, it’s good for them but it has no effect for us. It’s useless to plan for world domination, because it’s beyond our control. We do what we want to do and we do the best we can.

I’ve never been in a band and with me being impatient I don’t know how I’d deal with things not going as planned. How frustrating is it really to be in a band? How many setbacks have you had?
-Well, in a band it’s not different than in life, things are usually not going as planned. There have been thousands of setbacks and frustrating situations. But it’s worthless to complain. Just keep going. As long as we enjoy playing our music, we won’t stop.

When you are on your way up how do you know who to work with in order to get on the right tours/gigs, who to contact for your promo shots and which artist is best for art work?
-I’m afraid I can’t answer this question because we obviously failed in finding the right people to work with, hahahaha. For the artwork, we just ask someone whose art we like.

Would you say that playing live is still the best way to promote a band? What does playing live to a local pub crowd give you as a band?
-Probably big companies have more effective ways to promote their artists but for bands like us playing live is the best thing to do, not only for promotion, but also to become tight as a band and getting familiar with different situations. Playing in small clubs is the greatest thing to do for us because we are close to the crowd and can feel the energetic atmosphere. That’s a great experience.

What are your plans for the future?
-We are working on new material for the next album and in the meantime we’d like to play live as much as possible.